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Why are some men still sending us messages using creepy actions in asterisks?

*gently pushes article towards you, smiles, tips head expectantly*

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By Amy Jones on

You know that thing we used to do back in the noughties, when we were teenagers and used the internet to explore flirting and sexuality in a safe space? When we would chat to strangers on forums and use asterisks to denote actions, so that we could pretend we were snuggling next to/play fighting/kissing an actual, attractive human being rather than sitting at the family PC and opening up The Sims: House Party to hide what we were doing whenever our parents came in? Remember that?

Well, while we may have left behaviour like this back in the technology dark ages, where it belongs, many people haven’t. Many people – mainly men, to be honest – are clinging on to the idea that the pinnacle of suave flirtation is to send a woman a bunch of vaguely sexy verbs over Facebook Messenger, with a couple of asterisks whacked around them, to trick their target into thinking that these are real actions that are really happening. The subreddit is collecting messages from these creepy men and also providing a place for women to support each other as they vomit up their very souls in disgust.

It’s embarrassing and awkward, and makes me feel the same mixture of pity and disgust as I’d feel when presented with a child who's thrown up on itself

These men probably think that, when they send messages like *kisses you lightly and quick, blushes, looks away* , it’s incredibly charming and flirty, but it’s not. It’s really not. It’s embarrassing and awkward, and makes me feel the same mixture of pity and disgust as I’d feel when presented with a child who's thrown up on itself and is crying about it. Only without any desire whatsoever to comfort these men the way I would want to a child.

The problem with these types of messages is that they quickly become very physical and very, very weird – like the guy who decided to move straight to feet licking with a person who was very clearly not into the whole roleplay thing. It’s also icky because the person writing is basically dictating what is happening in this weird reality they’re making up, so there’s no notion of consenting to what is happening – even if you dismiss the guy saying he’s licking your feet and what he’s doing as ridiculous, that image of your feet being licked is still in your head and is incredibly difficult to get rid of.

Who are these men? Why on earth do they think that this is a good idea?

And then there’s the fact that if you don’t responded to these messages with delight and furiously typed descriptions of your boobs, they turn nasty quickly. Some men will guilt trip you, others will pretend they’re burning your underwear, others pretend they’re stalking and drugging you, and some fall back on the old classic of threats and insults. And some will tell you that they can crush a seed between their bicep and their body because, sure, that’s what really impresses a woman, right? Good looks, sense of humour, ability to crush a seed using only his arm. Top three things on my list.

I can’t believe that it’s the year of our lord 2018 and we’re still having to talk about this nonsense. Who are these men? Why on earth do they think that this is a good idea? Maybe they don’t know that one of the delightful things about being an adult, rather than a teenager, is that you can have these flirty interactions in person, rather than via a computer screen. That, if they and their partner want to, they can actually kiss each other and touch each other in real life! It’s a wonder, it really is. And even better, it means that if someone tries to lick my feet without any preamble, then I can sucker-punch them straight in the gut, just like they deserve. It’s a win-win situation for us all.


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